The Carolina Hurricanes have the 13th-overall pick in this year’s draft and will have an opportunity to continue adding to their young team. Over the next week, I’ll be looking at eight players (two players per article) who the Hurricanes could select with their first-round pick.
The players chosen will be based on who I’ve seen ranked at or near 13th overall by different projections. Each article will have a theme: I already did one article of players that could be a steal at 13th overall, then there will also be one article of players the Hurricanes shouldn't go after and today’s article, which will be the first of two articles looking at some players who are likely to go close to where the Hurricanes will be picking.
I’m also going off the assumption that the following 10 players will be off the board by the time it’s Carolina’s turn to pick: Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Tim Stutzle, Cole Perfetti, Marco Rossi, Jamie Drysdale, Alexander Holtz, Lucas Raymond, Jake Sanderson and Jack Quinn. If any of them are available, the Hurricanes should have any easy pick, however, it’s unlikely.
Mercer scored 24 goals and 60 points in 42 QMJHL games this year, splitting his season between Drummondville and Chicoutimi. He has a late birthday, meaning this was his third season of CHL eligibility.
His puck control is excellent and he’s pretty much always comfortable hanging onto the puck until there’s either a pass or shot available. Mercer is also a strong skater and the fact that he can make quality passes under pressure and has a good shot as well makes his ability to hang onto the puck and skate with it all the more dangerous. Plus, considering many of Carolina's top forward prospects are centers, the team could use a quality prospect on the wing.
I will say that while his puck control is excellent, that’s often due to his stickhandling rather than using his body to shield the puck, which makes me cautious about how it may translate to the NHL where he’ll be given less time and space. Having said that, I certainly wouldn’t be against the Hurricanes selecting Mercer.
Unlike Mercer, I haven’t seen Holloway projected to go as early as 13th overall but I have seen him ranked in the range of 14th to 16th overall by a few projections, meaning there’s a chance we could see the Hurricanes take him slightly earlier than he’s ranked. He’s a big, left-handed forward and is already 6-foot-1 and over 200 pounds, so he’ll adjust well to a physical game. Plus, considering the Hurricanes need a top-six left winger, it could be a fit.
That said, Holloway’s production doesn’t really indicate that he has that offensive upside. He had eight goals and 17 points in 35 NCAA games in his first season with the University of Wisconsin. While it’s decent production, those aren’t stats that necessarily paint him as a sure bet to become a top-six forward.
He has a good shot and can certainly skate with the puck through the neutral zone and make zone entries but to me, he probably projects as a middle-six forward rather than a legitimate top-six forward. I’d probably prefer the Hurricanes go with someone else with the 13th overall pick, based on the players who will be available at that point, though Holloway is likely to be an effective NHLer.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Which player would you be happy with at 13th overall?